CERT: 12A | DIRECTOR: MICHAEL DOUGHTERY | SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL DOUGHTERY, ZACH SHIELDS | STARRING: MILLIE BOBBY BROWN, VERA FARMIGA, KYLE CHANDLER, KEN WATANABE, SALLY HAWKINS, O'SHEA JACKSON JR | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Five years after the attack on San Francisco, the world is still coming to terms with the news that we are not alone on this planet any more and that monsters live amongst us. The Russells are but one of many families who felt the devastating brunt of San Fran in 2014, but a much larger scale event is on the horizon that will test the will of man in Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
After the ultimately lukewarm Godzilla (2014) and the mildly successful Kong: Skull Island in 2017, Warner Bros and Legendary's MonsterVerse needed to knock this out of the (Fenway) park and they absolutely did that thanks to director Michael Doughtery's extra special touch. One of the major criticisms with the previous instalment centering on the kaiju God was that he didn't receive enough screen time - but Doughtery, in his wisdom, has corrected that particular balance whilst also ticking a lot of the boxes that Gareth Edward's attempt, unfortunately, failed to. In this pure summer blockbuster event, the stakes have been raised in more ways than one - Godzilla himself has a much more prominent role while also sharing the giant screen with other beloved Toho kaiju including Mothra, Rodan and the One Who Is Many, King Ghidorah, and a wonderful balance of a much more compelling human than its predecessor, with giant monsters beating the unholy hell out of each other. On top of that, Doughtery's attention to detail from being a lifelong Godzilla fan is in full effect throughout the entire film.
The human story follows the Russell family - a broken mother, Emma (Farmiga), a damaged father Mark (Chandler) and their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). After losing a member of their family during the MUTO attack in 2014, the family has been torn apart, but their connection to Monarch and the Titans is much deeper than first imagined. When the sinister and mysterious Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) takes Emma and Madison hostage in order to use Emma's crucial scientific creation that could help humans and titans live in harmony for his own nefarious means, they end up unleashing the Titans, causing a global apocalypse that could end humanity as we know it... But, of course, it's up to Godzilla to save the day by restoring balance and confirming himself as the true King of the Monsters.
This time around, the human cast is much more likeable and, although the dialogue is most definitely not the strongest part of the narrative (let's be honest, we are here for the fights!), they are a welcome addition to the pure animalistic carnage of kaiju war and never feel like they overstep their boundaries. Each of the main characters has an interesting story arc that is much more captivating than Brody in2014's Godzilla. Couple that with Doughtery's (who also served as co-writer with Zach Shields) slapstick quips that try to add light to a terrifying situation, and you have some real feeling characters.
Of course, the centrepiece of the film is the kaiju themselves - the mighty Godzilla, the three-headed dragon King Ghidorah, the adorable yet feisty Mothra and the fire demon Rodan. Each member of this iconic quartet gets multiple moments to truly shine. As each one is introduced to the audience they all encapsulate the grand nature of the situation at hand - from Mothra's hatching in its blue luminescent glory to Rodan bursting from a volcano, every one feels important and massive. There are so many breathtaking shots placed throughout that you could easily take a screenshot of and proudly frame it on any wall too - especially that one shot of Ghidorah. This is only heightened by some honestly spectacular creature design and state of the art visual effects that, although they are giant monsters, give each kaiju a personality. Not only that, but Bear McCreary's incredible score is certainly one of the most staggering and jaw-dropping elements of the film. The filmmakers were given the rights to Akira Ifukabe's original score from the classic Godzilla, and McCreary has crafted a mind-blowingly gorgeous score that uses elements of the classics while also giving it a stunning 21st-century makeover. Our personal favourite track is the remastered Mothra theme, made even more special in the context of the movie.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is hands down the greatest multi-monster movie of the modern era. The astonishing special effects and edge-of-your-seat thrilling battle scenes expertly paper over the minute nitpicks that one may have but, ultimately, this is one hell of a kaiju rollercoaster ride that you do not want to miss. McCreary's score elevates the rip-roaring action, and it is absolutely apparent that this is a movie made by a fan, for the fans.